Liver Cancer Screening
Currently, there is no routine, effective liver cancer screening test available; however, scientists are studying things like blood tests and CT scans to determine if they may be used as liver cancer screening tests. In the meantime, doctors can use diagnostic tests in cases where they suspect liver cancer is already present.
"Liver cancer screening" refers to testing people for early stages of the disease even though they have no liver cancer symptoms. At this point, a routine, effective liver cancer screening test has not yet been developed.
Scientists have studied patterns of cancer in the population to learn which people are more likely to get certain types of cancer. They have also studied what things around us and what things we do in our lives may cause cancer. This information sometimes helps doctors recommend who should be screened for certain types of cancer, what types of screening tests people should have, and how often these tests should be done. Not all screening tests are helpful, and most have risks, such as serious internal bleeding from the liver due to a biopsy for an abnormal screening test. For this reason, scientists are studying many screening tests to find out how useful they are and to determine the relative benefits and risks.
If your doctor suggests certain cancer screening tests as part of your healthcare plan, this does not mean he or she thinks you have cancer. Screening tests are done when you have no symptoms. Since decisions about screening can be difficult, you may want to discuss them with your doctor and ask questions about the potential benefits and risks of screening tests and whether they have been proven to decrease the risk of dying from cancer.
If your doctor suspects that you may have cancer, he or she will order certain tests to see whether you do. These are called diagnostic tests. Some tests are used for diagnostic purposes, but are not suitable for screening people who have no symptoms.